Most women gain a considerable amount of weight when pregnant and, although they lose a lot of weight when their baby is born, many women struggle to lose the leftover pregnancy weight once their bundle of joy arrives.
A combination of sleepless nights and a suddenly frenetic lifestyle makes it difficult for many women to find the time to exercise or eat properly. How does one rid oneself of unwanted pregnancy weight? It can be difficult, but it is not impossible. (And let’s forget about celebrity moms who lose their pregnancy weight by the time their 6-week checkup rolls around- we can’t all afford personal trainers and a private chef!) The following are some suggestions to help you lose the lingering weight:
1. Drink plenty of waterDrinking water will help you to feel full. In addition, drinking water instead of other beverages will cut out unnecessary calories. If you are breastfeeding, you will need to drink plenty of fluids anyways, and water is best. When your baby feeds, whether from the breast or a bottle, consider this your cue to have a glass of water. If you want to make drinking water a little more palatable, try adding a slice of lemon for flavor.
2. Resist cravings for fast foodYour busy new lifestyle may cause you to consider fast food instead of cooking. It’s understandable- you’re tired and can’t remember the last time you slept through the night! Resist the urge to load up on fast food, as there are tons of calories and fat and little nutritional value. When your friends and family ask what they can do to help after the baby is born, ask them to make you some freezable/ microwavable dishes that are low-cal and healthy for both you and your baby if you are breastfeeding.
3. Join a fitness program for moms and totsThere are plenty of programs for moms and babies that will help you stay active and lose weight. Getting out in the real world won’t hurt either! Look for programs that allow you to bring baby, or that offer babysitting on-site. However, you should allow yourself time to recover from birth before embarking on an exercise program. Make sure that your physician has cleared you to exercise if you have had a difficult delivery.
4. Find ways to increase your activityTake the stairs, park a couple of blocks from where you need to go, walk to the supermarket- whatever you need to do to add a few steps to your day! Taking your baby for a walk (weather permitting) will help you lose weight and boost your spirits, too!
5. Avoid comparisons (and the scale)No one likes their body after pregnancy! Avoid comparing yourself to other women- every woman is different, and loses weight at different rates. Comparing yourself to others will only cause you to feel bad about your body. Remember, it took 9 months to gain the weight, and taking it off may take up to a year. Don’t be hard on yourself. Avoid jumping on the bathroom scale frequently; in fact, throw it out!
6. Snack on healthy foodsKeep a supply of healthy snacks around for when the urge to eat strikes you. Your body does require fuel for the marathon race that each day with a newborn is similar to, particularly if you are breastfeeding. Choose low-call snacks that satisfy hunger and provide lots of nutrients, such as nuts, raw veggies, raisins and whole wheat crackers.
7. Breastfeed your babyBreastfeeding requires approximately 500 calories a day, and studies have shown that women who breastfeed lose weight more quickly. Milk production requires a lot of energy from your body, and women who breastfeed may find they lose weight more easily. Dieting while breastfeeding is never a good idea- eat healthy foods and let your body do the rest. Starving yourself of vital nutrients means that you are robbing your baby of what he/she needs for the rapid growth which they experience in the first few years.
8. Find support around youMany new moms turn to friends with babies who understand what they are going through. The first year can be difficult, and having a support person to share with and support you in your weight loss goals can be invaluable.
9. Refuse to feel guiltyAllow for the fact that you just accomplished a miracle and that you are doing one of the hardest things that you will ever have to do. Set realistic weight loss goals and don’t be hard on yourself if you slip. Refuse to buy into the notion that women’s bodies should look the same as they did before a pregnancy immediately after delivery- anyone who believes this should harbor a 7-pound infant in their body for nine months, push it into the world, and then do without sleep for a year! If they can do this and maintain a perfect figure, hats off to them. This, however, is not a realistic view. Allow yourself to feel proud of yourself and wonder at what your body accomplished in less than a year.
10. Start slowAny exercise you do should be started very gradually. You should take your time working up to a full workout routine. Your body needs time to adjust, and exercising too vigorously after birth is never a good idea. Spread out your exercise throughout the day- this is just as effective as one long workout and will be less tiring when you are already exhausted.
Pregnancy and childbirth are enormously taxing on the body. In nine months, your body performs nothing short of a miracle, and we should love our bodies for what they can accomplish. Of course, there is a lot of pressure put on us to get back to our pre-pregnancy weight soon after birth. By following the above tips, you can lose weight without exhausting yourself. Remember, the first year of your baby’s life is to be savored and enjoyed, rather than spent lamenting the changes that have occurred in your body.